Anyone using Google's Webmaster Tools will no doubt have noticed a new Gmail-like layout for the dashboard as Google looks to align all its tools under a unified design. Site admins also should take note that some features have been removed, replaced or otherwise revamped.

Home Page, Navigation

Some navigation features have been renamed, while the left side of the screen now has four new groups organized by their functionality. Here they are, right from the Google Webmaster Central Blog:

  • Configuration: Things you configure and generally don’t change very often
  • Health: Where you look to make sure things are OK
  • Traffic: Where you go to understand how your site is doing in Google search, who’s linking to you and where you can explore the data about your site
  • Optimization: Where you can find ideas to enhance your site, which enables Google to better understand and represent your site in Search and other services

screenshot-googlewebtools-2012.jpg

Three widgets have been added to the dashboard -- Crawl Errors, Search Queries and Sitemaps -- each representing a different navigation group: Health, Traffic and Optimization.

Additionally, HTML Suggestions is now HTML Improvements, and Subscriber stats has been eliminated. That function, however, can be found in Feedburner for those who like to track the number of subscribers to RSS or Atom feeds. 

Dashboard

The dashboard now looks, well, more like a traditional dashboard, but there's a few changes to highlight here. First is the New and Important module right at the top of the page. Here's your new center for finding out about any issues that you'd be most inclined to attack right away. Second, sites can now be sorted alphabetically and by site health. That means the sites that need the most attention can be sorted to be at the top of the list for easier access. 

Finally, that oh-so minimalist look can be slightly modified with the comfortable or compact setting for so-called display density. For those managing a large number of websites, this tool might come in handy, and for others, it might just depend on how you like the page to look. Let us know in the comments if Google's new look is growing on you or if you think all the cosmetic changes don't add up to a useful admin interface.